Playtest 179 - New Squads and TIME CHANGE

EricEric Member, Administrator
edited January 8 in Patch Notes

Time Change

Sunday playtests will now run from 2-4pm PST (5-7pm EST, 11pm-1am CEST). Wednesday playtests will stay at 8-10pm PST. The goal of this change is to make it easier for players in various timezones to make at least one of our weekly tests.

New Squads!

Two new squads - The Hive and Warp Squad - have entered the battlefield! We also continue to make pathing and performance tweaks. Keep in mind choosing where and how to engage (angles, army shape, etc.) matters more than ever with the new squads and frontline, anti-frontline, backline system.

The Hive

The Hive is an insectoid-themed red squad.

  • Hero - A melee warrior that summons beetles to help fight its enemies.

    • Basic ability: Summon beetle. Summons a weak but fast controllable beetle that lasts sixty seconds.
    • Ultimate: Beetlepocalypse. Summons a swarm of tiny but powerful beetles that die after ten seconds.
  • T1 Unit: Hornet. A fast but fragile anti-frontline unit that can lay explosive eggs as traps for its enemies.

    • Ability: Lay Egg. Lay's an egg at target location. The egg is briefly visible and attackable before becoming cloaked and dormant. If an enemy nears an egg, the egg activates, becoming visible, and after a moment, exploding, damaging all nearby enemies.
  • T2 Unit: Scarab. A powerful melee unit that can cleave its enemies.

    • Ability: Cleave. The Scarab's next auto-attack will deal splash damage.
  • T3 Unit: Hive Queen: A caster that can buff other Hive units - but it comes at a price.

    • Ability: Unstable Stimulant. Target Hive unit doubles its attack rate for a brief period, and then dies.

Warp Squad

Warp Squad is a highly-mobile white squad.

  • Hero: A ranged warrior that uses wind magic to to fight its enemies.

    • Basic ability: Cyclone. Fires a line shot that temporarily phases out all enemy units it passes through, both disabling them and preventing them from taking damage.
    • Ultimate ability: Storm's Fury. Buffs all nearby allies, increasing movement speed and attack speed by 25%. NOTE: This is a placeholder ability, as the other ultimate we have in mind needs further work.
  • T1: Sprite. Extremely small, fast, and fragile melee unit that swarms across the battlefield.
  • T2: Transporter. Specialist caster that uses wind to manipulate the battlefield.

    • Ability: Zephyr. Place's a circular region on the battlefield that slows enemies and speeds up allies.
    • Ability: Gust. Shoots out a conal blast of wind that knocks back enemy units.
  • T3: Conduit. Powerful ranged unit whose lightning auto-attack chains to nearby enemies.


  • How did it feel to play as the new squads?
  • How did it feel to play against the new squads?
  • How did it feel to reposition individual units inside your army or with allies?


  • LefLef Member
    edited January 11

    I played several games with Hive, though none with Warp. Hive was fun. I enjoyed the Mine mechanic quite a bit. It lead to big moments where whole armies could die. It was also different than, for instance, Destructive Prophecy. Placing mines required more forethought than reflex. It is a bit sad that you often don't see your mines detonate, but such is the nature of the mechanic. The mines also provide superb vision control. While wards are overpowered right now, once wards are iterated on I expect Hive to fill an important niche of map/vision control.
    I was surprised that Xaphid is melee. It felt awkward controlling a melee hero with a ranged squad and he was constantly having to be pulled back. Casting Xaphid's ult was great every time I got to do it. Watching the beetles devour an opponent was fun.
    The Hornet's speed was also surprising but in a positive way. Being able to get ahead of the opponents to lay mines was rewarding. I felt in control of situations by constricting the opponent's movement. It felt much fairer than Celesta as well. Celesta punishes you instantly. Even if you are watching your units like a hawk, you can still take shots from Purifiers. It can be more annoying moving through a heavily mined area, but as long as you are paying attention, you won't be punished at all. As a C squad, Hornets also do monstrous work against opposing B squads. A volley from 5-6 Hornets almost killed a Terrapin Trooper. While I like the A,B,C system I think with the mines that Hornets might be a bit strong. Especially with their two mine upgrades. These were easily the most impactful squad upgrades I've played with. Having access to 18 mines is silly, and you can instantly make an area impassible.
    Though I enjoyed the squad, I do think the tier 2 and 3 feel a bit inconsequential right now. I didn't feel like they played into the play style of the squad in any significant way. That could just be me having only played 5 games them, but I felt better ignoring the tier 2 and 3 until I had max tier 1, both mine upgrades, and some AP upgrades. I did get some tier 2 eventually and they felt fine to control and were doing the job of providing beef for the squad. I suppose I would like them more if I had been consistently fighting tanks.
    Not related to me impression of the squad, but right now Vela's Flare is killing mines. This might be intentional or it could be unforeseen, but it makes playing Hive into her a nightmare.

    Playing against Hive was almost as fun as playing them myself. As I stated above, I dislike playing against Celesta since her area denial punishes you immediately. While you can be more aware of the Purifier's location than where mines are, if you ever lose vision on the map Celesta will destroy you. This isn't bad design, but its not something I enjoy playing against. Mines on the other hand are great. In their current iteration you have multiple options against them. You can target fire them, you can pull back, you can try and run past them. They ask you to pay attention and punish you if you don't. However, if you are watching, they basically amount to a speed bump. I haven't liked a mine mechanic in a long time because often they have no counterplay. Lay Egg has lots of counterplay and when I lost units to mines I knew it was my fault.
    Warp, as we discovered, was statistically weak. I also find it odd that of the two squads named Hive and Warp that Warp is the swarming squad. This also plays into why I felt the tier 3 for Hive is awkward. None of my units felt expendable. Anyway, Warp didn't feel like they did much. Even their tier 3 felt pretty weak.

  • MeltCatMeltCat Member
    edited January 11

    Didn't get to try much of the new squads. The one game I played as Hive hung about 10-15 minutes in. Dove vs Vex with whatever squad day9 was playing (probably Warp) and felt like I didn't do any damage because there were no mines set.

    I couldn't find any reason to not just cast the controllable beetle on cooldown; it didn't feel like there was any choice or strategy to it. Cast on cooldown = more beetles.

    I never hit 6, so I missed out on the awesome-sounding Beetlepocalypse.

    I did notice one stand-out moment where one of my Hornets pathed beautifully through the others in order to plant a mine, so, definite improvements on that front.

    Playing against Hive was interesting, although I only experienced it from cross-map. I misunderstood how to kill the mines and a-moved my entire army to their destruction through a fairly dense minefield, but as Lef says above, I knew full well that it was my fault for simply misplaying.

    Didn't get a proper chance to play as Warp squad. But the Sprites just seemed REALLY weak. Looked like they were able to get surrounds well, but they just seemed to fall over whenever another unit so much as gave them a stern look.

    In other feedback, the Eris vs Alder matchup is really hard. Alientree played Alder into Eris a few times last week and did very well. I got to play Eris vs his Alder on Sunday and it was just really tough. What I mean is that mostly, it always felt like the best option was simply to disengage. I baited out a number of vines and plants, both of which have a long cooldown. That feels like the logical play to make. But then he just hid until cooldowns came up and we were able to do the same dance again. Perhaps this was poor play in a timing sense on my part, and it would be better to win a longer-term attrition-based victory by leaving Alder helpless during gem waves.

    Additionally, I tried rushing Apocalytes in order to start dumping meteors on his densely-stacked plants, but the one I managed to get off (before that game also unfortunately hung as well) didn't seem to deal any damage to the plants. I haven't watched the replay to see if I simply missed, or if there was a hitbox issue or something, but it felt like I was making a logical play (get aoe damage to destroy stationary, grouped enemies) but not making any gains. That and those freaking plants just feel like they have a billion health anyways. Alder is really good.

    • I played a few games as each of the new squads, but really only enough to get the feel that neither of them are really for me in their current states. With Hive, the egg mine mechanic was cool, but scarabs felt kinda unwieldy and generally not as useful as they should have been. Most of all though, having a (near) melee hero felt AWFUL. My hero constantly got in the way of my scarabs, stood up front of my hornets and died, and just generally didn't feel like he was the commander of my squad in any way. If given the choice, I don't think I would play Hive again as it is now. Warp squad, however, I actually really liked conceptually for the most part. The swarmy tier 1s were cool, getting surrounds after using his hero ability was fun, and the the utility of the t2s felt useful and synergized well with the squad. But, that said, the t1s felt EXCEPTIONALLY weak, to the point of being almost useless, and the t3s as well felt like they didn't have quite enough punch (as evidenced by my personal 1v1 against Abdi where I massed t1s and he rushed t3s, a matchup which on paper should have been heavily in his favor due to the aoe but in reality actually went to me). So, cool squads, I'll stick to Alder/Ryme/Vex for now personally, but with a few buffs Warpsquad might end up my new main.

    • Playing against Hive was SUPER stressful in the hands of someone who used it well (lookin at you Lef). Good mine placement created INSANE map control, and large minefields made certain positions actually completely unsiegable. I remember one specific game where Lef was on my team and he got enough gems to put down an ion cannon in the middle of the map, and then he just surrounded it with mines. As the bottom side player, I needed only to dance around his minefield, threatening to cut off the retreat of the opposing bottom side player should they ever move in, and there was suddenly no way for them to kill the ion cannon. If they attacked, I would cut off their retreat and they would die to mines. If they attacked me, I could just run away, wasting their time and letting the ion cannon kill their central towers. If they did nothing, they slowly lost the game. Super, super powerful when used in that way (so, I respect that their playstyle just isn't for me). Playing against warpsquad however was just a game of "land the aoe on the wimpy sprites and win the game". Definitely felt like the weakest squad atm.

    • Repositioning felt starkly worse in this build to me, but I actually think that has a lot to do with how I personally learned to deal with the collision mechanics from the 1k. The two things that I can actually quantify that I dislike though are:

    1. Units moving through each other who both have active move commands. If you have your army moving in a certain direction and then tell just your tier 2 units to move in the opposite direction, they used to be able to slowly but surely slide through your army until they were on the other side of it (usually the back, because tier 2s are spellcasters). Now, they butt heads until you personally guide them to the sides and around each other. Definitely something I could get used to, but it definitely made it more difficult to change the ever-important shape of my army than it used to be, mainly during out-of-combat repositions.
    2. Units pathing around units that are backing. Or, to be more accurate, the absolute inability to path around backing units now. I think this might have to do with the expectation unit AI now has for other units to move out of the way, but if you start a unit in the middle of your army backing without issuing a new move order to the rest of your army, the back half of your army will just ram its face into the unit in the middle until it either disappears or you manually route them all to the sides of the backing unit. Definitely a source of frustration for me, as I have a huge habit of sending low health units back to base to heal up rather than using the heal towers. (I still haven't decided which is better, but my way makes me feel proactive, so I'm sticking to it)

    Those things being said, I did find it easier to have units move through idle units this patch the few times I did do it. The thing is, I rarely issued such orders, so while it was slightly useful on occasion, I found the changes generally more frustrating than anything.

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